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R v Cunningham [1957] 2 QB 396 Court of Appeal

The appellant ripped a gas meter from the wall in order to steal the money in the meter. This caused gas to escape. The gas seeped through small cracks in the wall to the neighbouring property where his future mother-in-law was sleeping and was poisoned by the gas. He was charged under s 23 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 which provides 'Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously administer to or cause to be administered to or taken by any other person any poison or other destructive or noxious thing, so as thereby to endanger the life of such person, or so as thereby to inflict upon such person any grievous bodily harm, shall be guilty of felony ...' The trial judge directed the jury that malicious meant wicked. The jury convicted the defendant and he appealed.


Malicious means either 1) An actual intention to do the particular kind of harm that in fact was done; or (2) recklessness as to whether such harm should occur or not (i.e., the accused has foreseen that the particular kind of harm might be done and yet has gone on to take the risk of it).
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